Island life: laying the foundations for a fossil-free future
The award-winning EU-funded TILOS project is tackling the sustainable energy challenges facing Mediterranean islands with practical solutions for storing, sharing and better managing power generated locally from the wind and sun.
© pink candy #93709263, 2018. Source: fotolia.com
With the EUs clean energy, low-carbon goals and the specific needs of isolated communities in mind, the EU-funded TILOS project set out to make the Greek island of Tilos the first in the Mediterranean to be powered solely by renewable energy. This required more robust technology to store and distribute the power effectively over time and distance.
The key part of the project was to develop battery technology and its management system to store excess energy produced, so that the island could become energy self-sufficient and sell excess power to its neighbours. Wind turbine and solar panels were installed on Tilos island outside of the projects budget.
While the main goal was to develop local, small-scale battery storage and microgrid facilities for private, business and public needs, the project had in mind the bigger picture of renewable energy, including societal, technical, commercial and domestic aspects, too.
With the focus on small-island needs, the project targeted real problems, such as how to secure year-round energy supplies from wind and solar renewable sources, and how to develop advanced electricity storage and distribution facilities for local and central needs.
The battery system being tested must support both standalone and grid-connected operations, while proving its interoperability with other microgrid components. These include demand-side energy management and smart metering tools, as well as distributed residential heat-storage and hot-water systems.
The project is now building an extended microgrid simulator to analyse battery technologies and microgrid configurations: standalone, grid-connected and power market-dependent systems. Other islands are watching TILOS closely, the aim being to create an island platform to help transfer the technologies and inspire wider use.
In 2017, TILOS was named the best energy island project and the citizens choice at the EU Sustainable Energy Awards. The prizes recognise outstanding innovation in energy efficiency and renewables.
The story of the tiny Dodecanese island, known as the green island for its efforts to protect biodiversity, has attracted international attention. An article in The Guardian, a leading British newspaper, heralds its efforts, and those of the project, to deliver a solution to Tilos energy needs, and potentially those of other Mediterranean islands and beyond.